cover image The Darkest Evening

The Darkest Evening

Ann Cleeves. Minotaur, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-20450-9

CWA Diamond Dagger Award winner Cleeves’s superb ninth novel featuring astute, irascible Det. Insp. Vera Stanhope (after 2017’s The Seagull) finds Vera driving home late one night through rural Northumberland in a blizzard when she comes upon a car that’s slewed off the road. The driver is gone, but Vera discovers a toddler strapped into a car seat. Soon after she transfers the child to her own car, she realizes that she’s close to Brockburn, the once grand family home of the Stanhopes, and decides to go there. She last visited the place with her father when she was 15, and remembers that “the family had been unfailingly polite. That branch of the clan used politeness as a weapon of mass destruction.” At Brockburn, the abandoned car’s driver, a young woman, is found murdered behind the house. Vera assembles her loyal, if at times exasperated, homicide team to investigate, and comes to realize that the “whole case... was about families, about what held them together and what ripped them apart.” This fair-play mystery brims with fully developed suspects and motives that are hidden in plain sight. Skillful misdirection masks the killer’s identity. This page-turner is must reading for fans as well as newcomers. Agent: Sarah Menguc, Sarah Menguc Literary (U.K.). (Sept.)